The President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili met with the members of the Anti-Crisis Council
The anti-crisis council has been working for almost two months, and for this I would like to thank you.
This is a good format for proving and showing everyone that in the midst of different political views, many past confrontations, different political powers and platforms we can cooperate and agree upon certain issues, and make important decisions for our country.
Despite the fact that we do not agree on certain issues, I would like to express with satisfaction that certain issues have taken a plunge, specifically, with the initiation of the anti-crisis council, the government and the parliament have made some important decisions.
As you know, with the initiation of the Christian-Democratic party, we have reached serious agreement with the television air and licensing. This will assist future development, so that the mass media can be even more democratic, open and free.
With the leadership of Paata Davitaia, the commission has also started to work. I personally watch this on television and if there are any difficult exams that the members of the government need to pass, it takes place in the presence of this commission. Difficult questions are posed, and the answers to these questions are even more difficult. The most important thing is that the public can watch this on live television, and if there are any further questions, they will not be left unanswered. The commission will continue to work, and the members of our government will be asked to respond to these questions thoroughly.
Mr. Davitaia, I would like to tell you that, you have put the government to work, and have also made it apprehensive. From your point of view, this looks good. This is not bad from my point of view either, but the representatives of the government might not be pleased. The mission of the government is to always be accountable to the public.
I think it is very important to mention that a year ago, you stood in the street, in front of the parliament and our relationship was completely different (meaning different political powers); now you are in the parliament, and you call on the ministers, that last year were looking down on some people, and you ask them questions. They are completely dependant on you, and they have to look over a lot of things. This is democracy in action and it needs to be developed.
I have not come here for you to listen to my opinion; I came here to listen to yours.
In spite of their political views and positions, every member of this anti-crisis court is equally important to us.
Please express your opinion.
I will touch on few of the issues. First of all, I would like to talk about what we have accomplished within this period.
We have had an opportunity to see what has been getting done for the refugees. We have visited Shida and Kvemo Kartli. We have seen the quality of the buildings that are being built and would like to inform you that these buildings are very acceptable. In some places, cottage-type houses are being built, and also already existent buildings are being remodeled. They are now starting to remodel the buildings that Russians have just recently left, burnt and demolished. In some places, some of the village residents have offered to rebuild their own houses provided that the government would assist them financially and provide them with building materials. Regarding this issue, the agreements are being reached with the governors. We are planning to go there again soon. I would just like to ask, for the majority of the anti-crisis court to remain together during our field visits.
This is important, so that everyone is able to see the clear picture.
As for the other issues, political issues remained. In order to solve these issues, political will and dialogue were necessary. For example, the issue of financing the parties has been practically solved and this will soon be enacted as the law;
The issue of the studio "Maestro" has also been determined.
Though they were a bit upset, we made records regarding the public broadcasting. It is now expected to conduct weekly political debates.
As for the amnesty, we are planning to publish the list of articles that it will refer to. Due to our diligence and government compromise, we have reached the consensus- up to 3000 people will fall under the amnesty. 2000 out of this number will be released, and the rest will serve either one half or one third less of their sentence. As for the people on suspended sentence, their punishment will be annulled.
There are two issues that we have already started to work on, but have not yet reached the completion. These are the issues concerning the writers union and the composers' house. I think we will be able to accomplish these issues in some way, so that all parties are satisfied.
In the past, we have talked about rebuilding the department of statistics and the government announced that it will continue to function. It is important that there exists the department which will provide the exact data in the country and the results of the various surveys will not become controversial. We have agreed with the government regarding this issue and they have already started to work.
Besides, we have heard the report of Kote Kublashvili, the chairman of the Supreme Court. This meeting lasted three and a half hours and we were familiarized with the list of the reforms to be carried out in the court system. All these exceeded our expectations, as we expected less and we heard a lot more. We expressed our opinions, out of which some were shared, and others we agreed to discuss further. I consider this reform to be very serious and its implementation is important for the country.
In the near future, we will start working on the issues that are new on the agenda. Out of which, the most important one is the election code. A specific group will be created to work on the organizational charts of CEC and taking care of other issues.
Aside from this, many other issues need to be solved, for example establishment of privileges for small businesses. We have already started to talk about this issue with Nika Gilauri, the Minister of Finances and we think that the goals will be reached in the near future within the ability of the government. - on the establishment of these privileges for the war veterans, multiple children families, and handicapped people.
We would like to invite the representatives from the Ministry of Defense and hear from them regarding the draft and preparation of the reservists. It is not a secret that the reservist system did not work. We have a vision concerning the civil defense, which we will share with the leaders of the Ministry of Defense and hopefully reach some sort of agreement. We have to offer them good, new ideas. First they will be discussed by the council and later introduced to the Ministry of Defense representatives.
I already spoke with the assigned Chair of Committee regarding the reorganization of the self-governance system. We will invite the anti-crisis council within the next few days and will start working seriously on the above mentioned issue. We have discussed this issue, and I think it is quite possible to reach the agreement and enact a law
Your offer suggests the self-governance of the villages, in my opinion, this is feasible. This used to be a very formal institute that was non-functional.
Please prepare this proposal accordingly, if you believe that the re-establishment of the village self governance in these new conditions, will allow the village to develop better, have a separate budget and solve their own issues.
I am ready to ask the members of my party deputies to begin discussing this issue in depth. Many issues will need to be further developed, but I do not think they should be turned down as they used to.
This is a very interesting and important issue, it is attached to the system of the self-governance and for the village it will be a new notion. The sources of financing this project will also need to be specified. The anti-crisis council will and the assigned committees will discuss the issue. I spoke with Vano Khukhuneishvili regarding this issue; he also believes that the specialists should be invited to share their opinions. We will form a concept, which may later be enacted as the law.
This is what I wanted to say. Some of these issues have already been solved, and the others are not too far from completion. There are issues that need to be addressed in the near future. It would be helpful to create the groups within the anti-crisis council that will work on specific issues. If we continue to cooperate in the similar manner, we will reach important results. I think this is the best form of a correlation and certain results are already evident, and the process has already begun.
Though I think that we will not be able to agree upon certain issues, the once that we reach an agreement on, will be very important.
There are few of the issues that demand the attention of the government. This is the issue of the television broadcaster "Imedi." Since there have been new uncertainties around this subject, the government should pay more attention to this issue in order to retain the sense of justice within the society;
The issue of business, especially the condition of the construction business is also very important. As we all know, the banks struggle for the credit resources, so at this point they are unable to assist businesses. Tax organizations are very thoroughly checking the documentations starting from years 2003-2004. Taking into consideration that the construction and other businesses are under pressure, we should support them.
As for the amnesty, the strong decision you made is very important. Though it would be good if we were to expand the segment. There are separate instances when the offender can be forgiven, for example mobile phone theft and other such cases.
You are the members of the Parliament, so you should refine the code. It is very difficult to discuss in such a manner...
I am not happy that there are so many people in prison, so I gladly sign for pardon and amnesty.
In Georgia, the crime rate has decreased twice within the last two years. Now, when such cases are practically zero, if we are going to be too tolerant in making decisions, the crime rate might still go up, our cars may be stolen again, our family members could get disturbed and the overall situation could get chaotic. We cannot support this. We may say that specific incidents may not be considered as theft or burglary. We need to further polish this issue in Parliament, but I cannot sign for the release of the majority of the thieves and burglars, if they are not on the road of improvement. Taking your opinion into consideration, I ask for the responsibility to be divided equally.
For this reason, aside from amnesty, the pardon will also be issued for those specific cases of robbery where the offender does not pose a threat to society. These aside, overall cases of robbery will not be included in amnesty.
Our main principle is to ensure that a person that has posed a threat to society is not allowed to do so again. Individual cases will be discussed, and those that do not pose a threat to people will be let back into society.
In accordance, as we already have an approval for both amnesty and pardon, we can start discussing individual cases.
The topic of the bank resources and businesses is also important as mentioned by Mr. Jondi. I would like to make an appeal to the members of the council to more actively get involved in monitoring international aid.
I would like to inform you that the United States has already transferred the first 300 million dollars to Georgian budget, along with the additional bank resources. We are ensuring the stability of the system so the banks may come back to life. I would ask that you manage every tetri wisely in order to ensure the progress.
It is very important that the Parliament is involved in managing this flow of finances. More importantly, the opposition should be directly involved in the process. The anti-crisis council is the organization that has the ability to be actively involved in this process. And I urge you to do so.
As soon as the anti-crisis council gathers, the agreement will be reached on monitoring the above mentioned amount.
Clearly this aid will not be transferred in one total amount. The wise management of the first transfer will determine the fate of the following transfers.
The anti-crisis council is open to everyone's participation, majority as well as minority and non-parliament opposition members.
That is why I think, this council is the right format for implementation of this project.
As you all know this council was created very openly and simply. Everyone, including the non-parliament opposition members, who have expressed desire to participate are still with us.
In the nearest future, it will be very important to come up with the monitoring system.
I would like to direct your attention to a very sensitive subject, events of November 7th.
There were people detained during the November 7th event. Following last year's events 35 people were held in custody. Now this number has decreased to 14. We have an appropriate list...
Concerning this matter, last year, the prosecutor's office held a detailed discussion with the members of the opposition. In fact, none of the crimes referring to order violations are left. But there are people detained for the violations of different cases, including robbery. This refers to those detained few months before.
If a person robbed a bank 4 months ago, there is nothing that can be done about it. But please study each case separately, bring it out, discuss and prepare it. I will endorse your decision.
This will be a good precedent to regain trust.
There is another issue concerning the election legislation. There are always remarks on this matter. Gia Tortladze said the council works very openly. Of course there are ideological barriers, as well as moral problems and damaged personal relationships. I have personally overcome many barriers to be able to speak with my opponents, which I consider absolutely adequate. I would like to ask many of those people that are part of non-parliament opposition to take part in discussions. The election legislation will not be written only for 2-3 political powers, but for the whole country, the whole political spectrum. In order to avoid future insulting accusations concerning bargains and secretly enactment of laws, I would ask them to come to Parliament, where they used to work and then we can discuss every issue concerning the election legislation.
I think this is the best proposal I can offer.
Just like you, I do not have a problem with meeting with even the smallest non-parliament groups. We cannot refer to the election legislation as a moral issue. This is a very specific matter, which should be transparent, flexible and clear for everyone. It should be trusted by all. We are talking about enacting a law which will make counting votes easier.
I heard it over the radio that the Christian-Democrat observers have recorded violations in Khelvachauri, Shuakhevi and certain electoral regions. According to international observers, overall, elections were conducted well. But local observers, who I trust, have said that there were indeed many procedural violations in Khelvachauri. According to foreign observers, these violations could not have affected the election results, but I decided to annul the election results in these regions and conduct new elections. There should be no question marks, so I announced zero tolerance towards the election violations. The legitimacy of the entire process, its future and its dialogue is left under doubt when the election violation takes place. This is unacceptable. Certain people in my party suggested that I agree to this. In order to avoid any un-clarities, instead of agreeing with the members of my party, I agreed with the demands of opposition.
We are ready to write the election code in manner where any future doubt is eliminated in advance. We are open to discussion.
Mr. President, our committee is continuing to work, the development of processes is interesting, and the interest of the international public is vast. Now days, foreigners that visit Georgia express their interest in our work and stand by us. They observe the work of the commission and anticipate the results.
It is important to mention, that during the meetings government members speak openly about the mistakes made. I would like to underline that fact that the aggression continues and has not yet stopped. There are many examples of this. One of the proofs is the recent training conducted in Kodori Gorge, using the Russian aviation. Before the commission reaches the conclusion, changes that continue to take place should be taken into account, since it is always possible for this to repeat.
It is important, that before the commission reaches the conclusion, the mistakes that the Security Council secretary and many government officials admitted to and are mainly connected to coordination are improved. According to the conclusion, I would like to declare that the opinion that has been spread within the society, as if the coordination takes place between you and me, is a rumor. I would like to openly express, there is no influence, no coordination between the commission and the President, and I would like to underline that it works independently.
As far as the coordination is concerned, I would like to say: I am ready to take your conclusions into consideration. The coordination that takes place with you is impossible. When we speak of 7-hour question-answer interrogation, unfortunately it is impossible to always agree, plan in advance or be exempt from mistakes.
I would like to underline for the public that this is impossible. The questions that are asked by the commission to the members of the government were developed within the meeting and cover the issues accumulated among public, experts and politicians. Commission will continue to work in the same manner. The public clearly sees the responses of the ministers and other government officials, so no body can say that this prepared in advance.
I suggest that all this be published, put on the website and translated....
Everything that happens is important considering the interests of the country. Many foreigners that are interested in our work have mentioned that it would even be difficult for many developed democratic countries to work so diligently under pressure.
Thank you so much to the government for making all effort to ensure that the commission works efficiently.
From the beginning we promised you that we would not keep secrets or play games. I think we have kept our promise, and if it is not so, please let us know.
I would like to add one thing concerning the work of the commission. I do not know how to address some of those politicians that people recognize; they make announcements on television about the officers and soldiers who contact and inform them that they were in the forests and needed help. Also the families of the lost soldiers contact them, and the actual number of the lost soldiers exceeds the official data.
I urge these politicians, in case they have any reliable information regarding these facts, please contact us so that we may discuss this.
We published the list of the lost and deceased soldiers. If any one can fill in the list, let them come and inform us-most importantly this in our interest, so that there are no doubts or bases of it left.
We had a conversation with the representatives of the general headquarters; we will talk about this with the Minister of Defense, when we call on him. There is no sense in concealing the number of the deceased.
I would like to draw your attention to one more issue. The prosecutor's office questioned around 5000 people. The issue of accusation is determined, and everything is ready in order to speed up the process of Baghapshi and Kokoiti sanctions. It is impossible to justify what takes place in Kodori Gorge. We spoke with the Minister of Justice, General Prosecutor a.i and they need to solve this issue quickly. The countries which plan to open diplomatic representations in the regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali should know that their representations will be opened not in the regions but in the places of criminal dislocation. This should be given a just evaluation.
I would like to add that this commission troubles, not only the ministers but also the members of the Parliament. For example I, as I was asked to explain myself in front of the commission. I would like to give advice to the commission, it would be appreciated if you take it into account-kindly print out the questions that were asked to the government officials. Then these questions should be given to journalists for introducing them to the public. There should be no doubt left that difficult questions were asked. I personally listened to every meeting, and cannot imagine what more they could have asked to the government officials.
As a matter of fact, I am ready to meet the commission and answer every question. We should all know that no one is immune.
I have often said to the mass media representatives that the commission does not have a right to call on the President, since this is the format of the commission. Though this depends on the goodwill of the President.
Thank you for giving us this opportunity and for ensuring the efficient work of the commission.
Mr. President, these questions would have remained, if not your desire to visit us. I would like to assure that the questions directed to you will be much more acute.
I would like to touch on the few of the issues concerning the format and the work approach of the anti-crisis council. For the past few days, I have been hearing the announcements of certain political groups (non-parliament opposition). They seem to be ready for the discussion of certain issues. I believe it is important to communicate with this people in any way, even if this means to change the format of the council. The opposition spectrum is divided in two parts-one is in the Parliament and the other is not. They have their own views and actually quite a few supporters.
I was troubled by the fact that the number of people that came out on November 7th, was less then I expected. I am afraid this might change the course taken by the government-as they should not assume that the negative vibe has decreased.
The society is approaching the current situation with responsibility. I have no illusion that the number of discontent people cannot only be judged with those that came out protesting in the rainy weather on the Rustaveli Avenue. Despite many social problems, unemployment, poverty, and the political unrest, the society understands that we need to carry out the process by means of dialogue. Otherwise, those that do not wish us well will benefit from it. This is an order from the society, and we are not going to measure the political process by the number of people that came out to protest. No where in the world, they measure the political process this way. Millions of people may gather within the country, but those few people in the auditorium can have a bigger effect on problematic issues. This is true any where in the world. I would like to let you know that I will not stop worrying until these problems are solved and of course problems are many.
I would like to continue the topic of the anti-crisis council, and note that there is a communication problem between us too. There are people here, who have not heard of the certain of these issues before coming here. I believe that certain changes should take place within the anti-crisis council, since this is a collective organization and belongs to more than one person or a party.
As for Ajara elections, there we were part of inter-fractional group, and some remained in Tbilisi for mid-term elections. Pavle Kublashvili and I were in Ajara. You mentioned that some people were against annulling election results. These were people who took part in these violations. Finally, according to our final evaluations, violations of the 4 out of 6 districts would not have affected the election results. As for the other two districts, there was a bad perspective for the political will. We saw that the Chairman of CEC call on the head of the district commission confronting him about not accepting a complaint of the international observer. Finally, the deputy director of district commission had to go to file a complaint. This took place in one of the Khelvachauri district.
I can assure that Goka Gabashvili and Pavle Kublashvili did not bring any money to Ajara, but the money appeared and was given out to opposition members. This is not only basis for the annulling of elections, but it requires opening of a criminal case.
I am troubled with this information and I can assure you that if there are any documents proving these facts, we will open a criminal case. If this is proven, everyone involved will be strictly punished.
One of the opposition parties showed us a specific record of a person admitting receiving money. I am sure this was the doing of local Sakrebulos and boards and it did not come from Tbilisi. If there is no sense of punishment for the wrong-doing, this will keep repeating. There was a will from Tbilisi for elections to be conducted without violations. Though some people were left with stereotypes that elections could not be conducted any other way. I am sure that these stereotypes were developed during the leadership of Aslan Abashidze.
For past 15 years, elections have been taking place in Georgia, and a similar precedent, of annulling the entire region has been unheard of. This is very good, but this should be followed by a fact that the leaders of the regions and district commission chairman were released. Another fact that should be noted is that those people who committed offences despite being warned not to, have been punished. I think this event should have a logical end.
I have one specific proposal regarding this issue, which could possibly include the second one as well-work format of the election code. Many election violations have been noted, some of which were in Tbilisi, specifically in Didube region. We could possibly begin discussing these violation facts in the format of inter-fractional group-on the bases of which the criminal case can be opened. We will forward the materials to the law enforcement organizations.
Also in the name of the inter-fractional group, we should also invite the representatives of the non-parliament opposition. There is no need to give them a time restraint, let's start working on the election code and if they have a desire, they can join us at any time.
When the anti-crisis council meeting is announced, it would be good if we could all gather. This way, we can eliminate communication problems. We had many meetings and field visits which were only attended by 2-3 people. I think all together we work productively, and if any questions arise, we can discuss them within the council. In order to avoid any miscommunication, we should all attend the meetings. Active involvement is one of the ways of solving the communication problems. The information we possess will depend on this also.
I would like to touch upon the work of anti-crisis council, and also, since it was brought up the topic of elections. If indeed, any of the political powrs were giving out money in Ajara, we should investigate and punish the offenders.
I would like to inform you that during the pre-election period, decriminalized approach was displayed towards our political party. I informed Davit Bakradze and Pavle Kublashvili about this. After speaking with these people, I thought problems would be solved, but on the second or third day I received a refusal - due to being considered a non qualified subjects, we were unable to use the free commercial time. I have a written refusal from television, and CEC and a complaint filed in court. You can ask your own representatives to walk through this issue with me and objectively report it back to you.
As for the communication problems within the anti-crisis council, I do refrain from the field trips, but will gladly participate in the meetings set up with the government.
Regarding the economic crisis, I would like to ask the commission and the chairman to take a look at the experiences of other countries. We could possibly give you some information, and through consultations with you come to some conclusion. It is not enough and we cannot only depend on the aid that is coming in. Legislative changes might be necessary. If you have a political will, we could possible get involved in this process too and suggest a way of assisting the bank sector, the entrepreneur sphere.
For example, according to yesterday's and today's results, it can be proven that the currency exchange rate was created artificially. This remains the same today, if we judge it by the steadiness. The exchange rate is speculated, in certain districts the exchange rate for Lari is 1.45, while in other districts 1.65. This process should be regulated by the law and the amplitude should not falter within these limits. This should be under the supervision of the National Bank.
I would like to touch upon one more issue which is linked to yesterday and other opposition party's initiatives. They are announcing that they are ready to sit at the discussion table; let us do everything it takes for the process to be conducted in this format. It would be good if they were to come to anti-crisis council and get involved in its work. I am speaking out of pragmatic interests, since practically, from the non-parliament opposition only our party is left and naturally I would like the support.
As for the economy, I agree with Mr. Tkemaladze. I believe that the development of the right economic direction is more important that just the aid.
As far as the currency exchange rate, we are doing everything to avoid speculation and hurtful acts towards our economy. I do not expect any serious problems, as National bank has enough resources and marketing mechanisms that if put to work for our economy and general citizens it will definitely have effect, not to be followed by any serious complications. We do not expect any major changes. What you said is true, but the National Bank is utilizing instruments to regulate and stabilize the situation. We are aware of this, and are in control of the situation.
I would like to touch upon the work principle of the anti-crisis council. Mr. Tkemaladze, brought up few of the issues that are unavoidable. I cannot say that this is particularly anyone's fault, but the work of the anti-crisis council should become a regulated process. We should have a written working plan in the form of a document.
I also believe that the basis of this council should be just. We will have more positive results, if more political powers and people participate in the work of this council. I believe that the groups, which will work on specific individual issues, should be created within the anti-crisis council. We might invite the experts and public representatives, along with political subjects during the discussions of elections code, organizing CEC and other issues. For these issues, 3-person group could be enough, but regarding public issues the group could expand.
I mainly listed the issues that have already been solved. As for the work on the specific issues, I have not received any concrete proposals from anyone inside or outside of the council. We have mentioned many times that the door of the anti-crisis council is open to everyone. If they have a desire to cooperate with us, they can come and discuss it with us and if they are unable to be present, writing us is an option too.
I do not have a problem with talking to them, however, the anti-crisis council was not created to yell at each other, but to solve specific issues. For example, you brought up an issue of financing the political parties, the issue which Parliament had solved differently in the past. To tell you the truth, I did not personally participate in this. After consulting with you, the opinion was radically changed. No foreigner has seriously brought up this issue with us. Our interest, as the government power and people of this country is for the rules of the game to be standard. Our interest is for them to receive money from our budget rather than running to foreign countries for assistance. Though we do not have a rich budget, it is better for Georgia to finance and supervise the parties, rather than them being financed from our opponents. This is a very pragmatic interest, and we shared your position since we believe it is right. Otherwise, we will receive what is not beneficial to anyone. This is connected to what some of the international organizations suggested. It is time to become serious and say that the fate of our country is in our hands, it is decided by us and not by any of the European capitals, the United States, and especially not Russia. Though we can all clearly see the problems that Russia created for us.
Russian even today tries to turn back the time. Our fate is decided in Georgia, our political system should be developed in Georgia, our elections system should be improved in Georgia, so that our citizens are not left under a doubt. This is how it happened in Khelvachauri, when we entirely annulled a large elections region on the basis of observer's testimony. Previous discussion was more formalized, and now more serious issues are brought up.
I would like for everyone do understand that the political discussion is being opened more, we talk more, and there are less ceremonies and rituals needed for communicating with each other and all of us are more specific. No one has illusions about us agreeing on everything. I can tell you in advance, that as much as I would like to agree with you on everything, it is not going to happen, since I feel the responsibility for the people that have brought me here. This people have asked us to sit down and talk, despite the fact if we agree and like each other or not.
There are people here that have said such things to each other....but words do not mean anything since in this moment they are only expressions of emotions and political positions. Our country is eternal, but our words and emotions temporary. Our people are asking us for a dialogue. This is how political processes are governed in civilized manner.
I commend an active involvement of the anti-crisis council. Also, there are internal differences and it might not be right when someone exercises more initiative than others. This is good and points toward active involvement, otherwise there would have been no questions asked.
I am grateful for your commission as it endures 4-7 hour interrogations, which is very difficult. This is also very difficult for those that endure your questions. This is a big and a noble work, and a good step towards developing political system.
For this reason, I would like to offer you for our meetings to take place on more regular bases, so that we can introduce our decisions and all the issues to the public, hopefully by the public broadcasting channel. The society should know that though with delicacy, we work with no lenience.
Finally, within these disputes and dialogues, the truth will be born.
Thank you very much.
of the President of Georgia